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Paul and the appeal to Caesar
Query for the Month
Next up-date: November 1st 2005 (God willing).
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Some perpetual questions ....
Do you know the difference
between the "love" that is of Christianity
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends. It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!
Was Paul right as a Christian to claim exemption under Roman law?
Here we have a very interesting aspect of Paul’s behaviour. As a human, he was a Jew by nationality, and a Roman citizen by birth because Tarsus was a free city, but he had been re-born as a Christian and this means that he should have left those attributes behind in his former life. He had joined that group whose “kingdom is not of this world” and was expected to behave as one.
When asked about His kingdom, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from here.” John 18:36.
Therefore I don’t believe that Paul was claiming his “rights” as a Roman, and he certainly shouldn’t have been exercising any law for his own protection, for that is not the Christian way. As we know, we are expected to petition the LORD as Jesus could have when Peter was trying to protect Him. “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus to him, ‘Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Think you that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?’” Matthew 26:52-53. He did not do it because He had to suffer on the cross.
We do not have dual citizenship. We are only “. . . ambassadors[foreigners working in another kingdom] for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20. Therefore we have no "rights" in the world, only "privileges."
Let’s look more closely at what happened with Paul:
24 The chief captain commanded him [Paul] to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging [torture]; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion that stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?”
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, “Take heed what you do: for this man is a Roman.” 27 Then the chief captain came, and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”
28 And the chief captain answered, “With a great sum obtained I this freedom.” And Paul said, “But I was free born.”
29 Then straightway they departed from him [those] which should have examined [tortured] him. [They backed off in fright!] And the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
No, what Paul was doing was what any and every Christian is expected to do – he was trying to protect someone else. He had the welfare of another on his mind. When it came to light that the Roman captain had unlawfully treated him, he would be punished severely, for Romans were very particular about their privileges in law. It is possible that the chief man could even have been executed for such a crime. It would have been bad for him to cause Paul to be whipped, but to do it without a full examination in court was unthinkable.
So Paul, knowing this, would not have that man suffer.
As we have been reading lately, there should be a wide gap between civil and religious matters here on earth. "Jesus called them to Him, and said, ‘You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.” Matthew 20:25-26.
So how do we know when to use our earthly situation, and when not?
Jesus told us that we should render unto Caesar that which is his. Matthew 22:21. If we are in need of CIVIL action which is not religious, then we may accept help from Caesar as well as God, although we don’t have to, but in religious matters we should ask ONLY of our God.
Later, when Paul did appeal to Caesar through Festus he was following a plan which he had formed long before.
9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, “Will you go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?[in the presence of the Jews]”
10 Then said Paul, “I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “Have you appealed to Caesar? To Caesar shall you go.”
Paul thought that God wanted him to pay something for his crimes, and be a martyr, as many did in those times. (After all, even in these days some think that Jesus was also a martyr! But we should know better now.) When pleaded with by some of his followers, “Paul answered, ‘What mean you to weep and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the LORD Jesus.’ And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the LORD be done’." Acts 21:13-14.
But it wasn’t His will! He says, “Be not over much wicked, neither be you foolish: why should you die before your time?” Ecclesiastes 7:17. And, “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live you.” Ezekiel 18:31-32.
Yet on Paul's way to Jerusalem for a Passover (a ceremony he had taught had been done away with for Christians thirty years before) he called the elders of Ephesus to him for a farewell speech.
So it is written:
22 And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 save that the Holy Ghost witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. [He thought that God was leading him, but did not know for sure into what.]
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course [job] with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the LORD Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. [He looked forward to his death, not understanding that that is going into Satan’s kingdom.“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Philippians 1:21-24.]
25 And [right] now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. [At that moment the Spirit confirmed to him that his choice would be followed!]
Although warned time and again by the Spirit not to go, he had persevered until he got his own way.
4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way . . .
0 And as we tarried there [Caesarea] many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come to us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Ghost, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owns this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’.” 12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Thus it was that he crossed the line and appealed to a human being for religious justice when he should have left it in God’s hands!
We do not have dual citizenship. We are only “. . . ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20. So although we may take advantage of worldly exemptions in the civil realm, we may only appeal to God when it comes to religion.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from November 1st 2005.
What is a prophet?
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